Yankees visit Bethesda Naval Hospital and Pentagon

April 28, 2010–This morning, I accompanied Curtis
Granderson, Randy Winn, Marcus Thames, Nick Johnson, Boone Logan and assistant
GM Jean Afterman to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

During our two-hour stay at the military hospital, the
players met with 10 wounded soldiers from the Marines and the Navy.

Several of the meet-and-greet sessions lasted 10 minutes,
others lasted 20 minutes and a few even approached a half hour. Each soldier
had the opportunity to share their story of courage with the Yankees players.
And as the case was on Monday when the 2009 championship team visited the
Walter Reed Medical Center, every soldier we met had suffered severe injuries
while fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Most of soldiers were amputees, and all of them were
optimistic and eager to return to active duty.

“It’s hard to imagine how these guys could be so up-beat,
but it really puts things in perspective,” Curtis Granderson said. “They’re
dealing with a lot more than we can ever imagine, and none of these guys voiced
a single complaint today.”

One soldier, who asked to remain un-named, suffered a gunshot
wound to his leg last week in Iraq. He was scheduled for surgery this morning,
but he was held in his room until the Yankees arrived. After meeting the
players and getting a look at the 2009 World Series trophy, he was taken to the
operating room.

Another soldier that will stand out in my mind of a long
time is staff sergeant Josh Hudson of the United States Marines. Hudson was
shot in his right leg on April 19 at 11:30 a.m. (He remembered the exact time
it happened).

Since being injured nine days ago, Hudson has undergone four
surgeries in four different hospitals (two in Afghanistan, one in Iraq and one
in Maryland).

Hudson, whose wife and two sons were with him, proudly
shared the details of his deployment and his ultimate return to the United
States. He explained that while he was leading a group of fellow Marines
through a maze-like area of buildings in search of enemy troops, a rifleman,
who was hiding behind a building, shot him, and then fled.

Nick Johnson asked Hudson if he ever found out who shot him,
and Hudson delivered this emotional response.

“I never got a chance to get to him, but my guys when on a
retribution mission, and I’ll leave it at that. Let’s just say, it made me very
proud.”

Hudson, who is pictured below with his wife and sons Aiden
Michael (wearing Yankees hat) and John Wyatt, was grateful to have the chance
to tell his story to today’s visitors.

“This leaves a lasting impact,” Hudson said. “It’s one thing
to watch these guys on TV, but for them to take personal time out to see us, shows
that they really care.”

After our time at the hospital, Afterman and other Yankees
employees drove to the Pentagon. We had the unique opportunity to visit the
main briefing room, where we posed the photo below with the 2009 World Series
Trophy.

“At this podium, we’ve had all the secretaries of defense,
chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, service chiefs, Presidents and cabinet
members, but we’ve never had the New York Yankees — until today,” said Douglas
Wilson, who is the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.

Later in the afternoon, the trophy was put on display in the
main corridor of the Pentagon. Hundreds of service men and women posed for
photos with the hardware.

The Pentagon stop concluded a most memorable and spectacular Washington, D.C. trophy tour, which included the 2009 Yankees’ reception at the White House.

–Alfred Santasiere III 

Navy Hospital Blog Photo.jpg

Pentagon Blog Photo.jpg

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